Here in the UAE, we have the largest population of Pashtoons outside their homelands - Pakistan and Afghanistan, so everyday, I see plenty of people who are, as they say, rather familiar.
However, of late, I have found some things a challenge - separation from those you love and care about is foremost. There is something of a kind of hollowness to some parts of the day. Mealtimes for instance.
It isn't the first time that I have been 'forced' to work away. In fact most of the Pashtoon guest workers here in the Gulf live just that kind of existence. They live, several men to a room, toiling their shifts to feed their families at home. Over Eid, for instance, I had that experience. I visited a cousin in Sharjah and had a couple of beautifully restful days, listening to people in their deira which serves as a hujra and enjoying their melmastiya. I met with my mother's first cousin (an uncle) and my great-grandfather's grandson, which of course would also make him, in the Pashtoon tapestry of things, an uncle.
I know that I am lucky. I belong to a slightly different social demographic so my 'struggle' is much more comfortable. Still, the heart is cruel.
There are aspects to my job that I very much find positive. I feel that I give and gain trust, but there are constant hurdles which slow down my aspirations.The hours are long and this leaves me less downtime - so here's my criticism - education which is supposed to bring hope and inspiration can end up bleeding that very hope and inspiration of those who work so tirelessly to make it bear fruit. I find myself in that place.
I have learned a lot this past year and whilst I'm not sure of what happens next, I feel change. It is not yet winter and here I am, at a crossroads, looking, left, right, forwards, backwards and introspectively.